Private, Co. C. , 33rd Tennessee Infantry, CSA, September 13, 1861 - May 1, 1865
James H. Brigham (b. Jan. 26, 1836) was the fourth oldest son of Albert Clausel Brigham, Sr. (b. Feb. 10, 1800; prob. in Sullivan Co. TN - d. Nov. 30, 1875, Stewart Co. TN) and Mary “Polly” Byrd (b. 1810 - d. Aug. 17, 1892, Stewart Co. TN). He, along with his 13 brothers and sisters (HorseAnn Caroline, b. Mar. 25, 1827; Mary, b. Jan. 27, 1828; Thomas L., b. Oct. 11, 1829; Samisa, b. Dec. 19, 1830; Quintus C., b. Feb. 4, 1832; Harriet A., b. Mar. 25, 1834; Albert Clausel Jr., b. Feb. 1, 1838; Marion McDonald, b. Apr. 21, 1840; Minerva Jane, b. July 29, 1842; Constantine Polk, b. Sept. 27, 1844; Arcanthus Missouri, b. Aug. 17, 1845; John Wesley, b. Mar. 7, 1848; Elizabeth Tennessee, b. Apr. 15, 1851) was born somewhere in District No. 8 near Lick Creek (now Byrd Creek), Stewart County Tennessee and next to the Tennessee River, in what is now Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area (LBL). James H. Brigham was also the nephew of Luna Louisa Brigham Byrd (b. 1797, Sullivan Co., TN - d. Dec. 5, 1875, Stewart Co. TN) and therefore first cousin to her sons who also served in the CSA, George Wesley Byrd and Robert Payne Byrd.
According to his CSA service and Tennessee State Pension documents, James H. Brigham enlisted in the 33rd Tennessee Infantry in Union City, TN on Sept. 13, 1861 along with his younger brother, Marion McDonald Brigham. His service records indicate that he was continuously present with the 33rd Tennessee Infantry except for a brief period between Mar. 21 and Apr. 4, 1862 when his name appears on a register for the 1st Mississippi CSA Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi; a notation reads "returned to duty April 4, 1862” -- indicating he was indeed present at the horrific battle of Shiloh, TN April 6-7, 1862. Both James and his brother Marion were within Company C of the 33rd Tennessee Infantry and commanded by Captain William Francis Marberry. This company was formed largely of men from Calloway County, KY -- just across the Tennessee River from their home in Stewart Co. TN. Actual muster date for Co. C was apparently on Oct. 18, 1861, but the regiment was not completely mustered in until Nov. 28, 1861; this according to information in Tennesseans In The Civil War, Vol. 1.
The 33rd Tennessee Infantry remained in Camp of Instruction near Union City, TN until January of 1862 when it moved to the Confederate fortifications at Columbus, KY; at this time only a few of its companies were partially armed with shotguns and hunting rifles. Also at this time, the commanding officer of the 33rd Tennessee Infantry was Colonel Alex W. Campbell and under overall command of General Leonidas Polk. General Polk wrote to Major General A.S. Johnston on Dec. 30, 1861 in an attempt to get more firearms for the 33rd Tennessee Infantry; these arms, mostly flint and steel muskets, did not arrive until a few weeks before the battle of Shiloh.
At Shiloh, Pvt. James H. Brigham and his comrades in the 33rd Tennessee Infantry were in Brigadier General Charles Clark’s Division and Brigadier General A.P. Stewart’s Brigade; this brigade included not only the 33rd Tennessee Infantry, but also the 13th Arkansas Infantry together with the 4th, 5th Tennessee Infantries and Stanford’s Artillery Battery. The two Brigham brothers experienced their first combat, together with thousands of Confederate and Federal soldiers, in the early hours of April 6. By 10:30 a.m., Stewart’s Brigade had joined in the attack against the reeling Yankees in the area of Water Oaks Pond, at the intersection of the Purdy-Hamburg and Pittsburg-Corinth Roads. The 33rd Tennessee Infantry overran the Federal tents in their pursuit of the desperate Federal soldiers, going against Raith’s Brigade and a certain Pvt. John A. Palmer in the 29th Illinois Infantry. By 11:30 a.m., the victorious Rebels in Stewart’s Brigade, along with other units, had captured 18 Federal cannons and complete possession of the Pittsburg-Corinth Road.
Fighting was constant as the Confederate onslaught forced the beleaguered Federals to the North and East; by 4:30 p.m. Pvt. James H. Brigham and the 33rd Tennessee Infantry came into the Stacy Field from the northwest along with the 38th Tennessee Infantry, descending upon the die-hard Federals in the “Hornet’s Nest”, already withstanding over 8 charges for the last 6 hours. The Tennesseans cornered the 12th Iowa Infantry just East of the Pittsburg-Corinth Road and South of where it intersects the Hamburg-Savannah Road, helping capture 429 of the Iowans. The 33rd and 5th Tennessee Infantries then participated in a charge upon the so-called “Hell’s Hollow” portion of the Hornet’s Nest, wounding Colonel Campbell but leading to the capture of Federal General Prentiss shortly after 5:30 p.m. No doubt the two Brigham brothers feasted, as did thousands of their Confederate comrades, on the food left by the fleeing Federals that night as the rain fell amid the periodic shellings from the Federal gunboats on the Tennessee River.
The next morning saw the savage Federal counterattack against the recovering Rebels; reinforced during the night, the now confident Yankees pushed back the Confederate lines with some resistance at certain points. One of these resistance pockets was in the southwest corner of Jones Field, organized by Brigadier General Ruggles and containing approximately 2,500 men -- including the 33rd Tennessee Infantry -- formed around 10:00 a.m. The Federal Division of General Lew Wallace (about 7,500 men) descended upon their position from the northwest while forces commanded by William Tecumseh Sherman attacked from the North. Ruggles wisely withdrew his hastily-patched-together opposition to the South. The 33rd Tennessee Infantry lost 20 killed, 103 wounded, and 17 missing during the two days of Shiloh.
After reorganization following Shiloh, Pvt. James H. Brigham and the 33rd Tennessee Infantry saw action at Corinth MS (April-June, 1862), Perryville KY (Oct. 8, 1862), Murfreesboro TN (Dec. 31, 1862-Jan.3, 1863), Tullahoma TN (June 1863), Chickamauga GA (Sept.19-20, 1863), Chattanooga TN (Nov.23-25, 1863), New Hope Church GA, (May 25-June 4, 1864), Kennesaw Mountain GA (June 27, 1864), Peach Tree Creek GA (July 20, 1864), Atlanta GA (July 22, 1864), Jonesboro GA (Aug. 31 - Sept.1, 1864), Franklin TN (Nov. 30, 1864), Nashville TN (Dec. 15-16, 1864), and Bentonville NC (Mar. 19-21, 1865).
At Chickamauga, Pvt. James H. Brigham and the 33rd Tennessee Infantry were in the brigade of Brigadier General Otho F. Strahl with the 4th/5th, 19th, 24th, and 31st Tennessee Infantries. Strahl’s Brigade was in the Division of Major General Benjamin F. Cheatham and the so-called Right Wing of the Confederate Army of Tennessee, commanded by then Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk. Around 2:00 p.m. on Sept. 19, 1863, Strahl’s Brigade advanced into the eastern edge of the Brock Field and was met with a ferocious hail of canister and musket fire administered by forces commanded by Federal Brigadier General William B. Hazen. Assuming that his right flank was protected by Maney’s Brigade, General Strahl continued to advance his men across Brock Field, where they encountered destructive enfilade fire from Federal soldiers on their right. Now being blasted from in front and from their right side, Strahl’s Brigade maneuvered quickly to prevent being flanked and retreated from the field, leaving most of their killed and wounded behind. It was probably during this time that Pvt. James H. Brigham was wounded, according to his Tennessee State Pension documents. General Strahl stated that his losses from this bloody encounter were near 200 men, with several of his field officers dismounted by their horses being shot from beneath them.
At Franklin, on Nov. 30, 1864, Pvt. James H. Brigham and the men of the 33rd Tennessee Infantry were still in Strahl’s Brigade, but now in the Division of Major General John C. Brown and the Corps of Major General Benjamin F. Cheatham; these units of the Army of Tennessee were under the overall command of General John Bell Hood. Seemingly to punish his men for letting the Federal army escape his trap at Spring Hill the day before, General Hood ordered a massive frontal assault (20,000 men) against the strongly entrenched Federals at Franklin -- with the men in both Brown’s Division and Cleburne’s Division leading the way. This assault, larger and farther (~2 miles) that the more famous Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg, proceeded North along the Columbia Pike and began at 4:00 p.m. Brown’s Division, including Pvt. James H. Brigham and the 33rd Tennessee Infantry, was on the West side of the pike while Cleburne’s Division was immediately next to them on the East side of the roadway. The combined force of Brown’s and Cleburne’s Divisions (about 8,000 men) quickly overran the 4,000 Federals at the outer line of works; as the awed Federals retreated back towards the main fortifications near the Cotton Gin and Carter House, the men in Brown’s and Cleburne’s Divisions ran after them and followed them into the main works. As described in Wiley Sword’s book, Embrace An Angry Wind, the howling Confederates under Brown and Cleburne burst through the Columbia Pike gap and over the adjacent earthworks of the desperate Federals, capturing a 200-yard front between the Cotton Gin to West of the Columbia Pike and clearing it of Yankee soldiers. At about 4:45 p.m., a semi-controlled counterattack led by Federal Colonel Emerson Opdycke shocked the surging Rebels in Brown’s and Cleburne’s Divisions. Intense, savage hand-to-hand fighting using rifles, bayonets, pistols, clubs, and bare hands engulfed both sides in the death zone near the Carter House. Federal canister fire soon joined in and drove Brown’s and Cleburne’s soldiers back towards the outside perimeter of the Federal earthworks, near the Carter garden. The attacking Confederates soon became pinned-down defenders as the rallying Yankees poured enfilade fire upon them; General Strahl was handing loaded muskets to his men in a ditch 50 yards West of the Columbia Pike when he was killed. Major General Patrick Cleburne was killed opposite the Cotton Gin while leading a charge on foot. It was probably sometime during this chaos that Pvt. James H. Brigham was wounded, again according to his Tennessee State Pension documents. General Hood continued his assault until well after nightfall; along with 6 Confederate generals killed that day, 6,300 Confederate soldiers were also killed or wounded.
Pvt. James H. Brigham survived Franklin and was present when the remnants of the 33rd Tennessee Infantry were consolidated with the 4th, 5th, 19th, 31st, 35th, 38th, and 41st Tennessee Infantries into the 3rd Tennessee Consolidated Infantry on April 9, 1865; this after the battle of Bentonville NC on March 19-21, 1865. On May 1, 1865 both James H. Brigham and his brother Marion were paroled in Greensboro, NC in accordance with the terms of the surrender negotiated between General Joseph E. Johnston and Major General W.T. Sherman on April 26, 1865.
Before dying on May 4, 1920, James H. Brigham filed for a Confederate Pension from the State of Tennessee on Aug. 5, 1914. This document, on microfilm in the Tennessee State Archives in Nashville, indicates that he lived in Model, Stewart Co. TN at the time and provides the following information:
June 21, 1998
- - by Kenneth E. Byrd, Indianapolis, IN
- Cleo Cherry Grogan, Murray, KY
- Fifth cousin of Pvt. James H. Brigham; great-great-great-great-nephew of Albert Clausel Brigham, Sr.; great-great-great-grandson of Luna Louisa Brigham Byrd.
- Third cousin of Pvt. James H. Brigham; great-granddaughter of Luna Louisa Brigham Byrd.
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